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Cpl. John Shields, of Grimes, Iowa, was named the Iowa National Guard Soldier of the Year in the 2023 Best Warrior Competition held April 13-16 at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. Shields is a combat medic and represented Company C, 334th Brigade Support Battalion in the competition, which consisted of several events designed to test Soldiers both physically and mentally. He grew up in Mount Ayr and graduated high school in 2019.
Shields, who is also a firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Waukee Fire Department, was one of 23 Soldiers competing. The Soldiers were split into two categories based on rank – junior enlisted and noncommissioned officers. To qualify for the state-level competition, Soldiers first had to compete and win at the battalion level. Of the approximately 7,000 Soldiers in the Iowa Army National Guard, less than 1% qualify for the Iowa Best Warrior Competition.
The weekend started with uniform inspections, followed by Army warrior tasks and drills, timed land navigation exercises, the Army Combat Fitness Test, an obstacle course, rappel tower operations and stress shoots with M4 carbine rifles. It ended with a 12-mile weighted road march through snow on Sunday.
After completion, total scores were tallied and the winners were recognized at an award ceremony.
Shields will be joined by the noncommissioned officer winner, Staff Sgt. Nathaniel McCory, a Davenport native and construction engineering supervisor assigned to Company E, 224th Brigade Engineer Battalion, in the Regional Best Warrior Competition.